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Would You Be Happier If You Looked Better? A Focusing Illusion


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Some people might believe that individuals who are more satisfied with their body are also happier. However, people tend to overrate the influence of some factors (e.g. money or health) on their happiness; a phenomenon termed the focusing illusion. Our aim was to examine the focusing illusion in relation to body satisfaction. We experimentally manipulated body satisfaction and life satisfaction focus by varying the order of relevant measurement scales. Volunteers (N = 97) completed two questionnaires placed in separate envelopes to control the order of scales administration. Participants either completed the Body Satisfaction Scale followed by the Satisfaction with Life Scale or vice versa. In line with the focusing illusion the association between body satisfaction and life satisfaction was significantly stronger when participants were asked about their body satisfaction first. Body satisfaction as a focusing illusion may need to be considered by scientist as well as lay people who try to look better and be happier.
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Would You Be Happier If You Looked Better?
A Focusing Illusion
Lukasz D. Kaczmarek Jolanta Enko Małgorzata Awdziejczyk
Natalia Hoffmann Natalia Białobrzeska Przemysław Mielniczuk
Stephan U. Dombrowski
ÓThe Author(s) 2014. This article is published with open access at
Abstract Some people might believe that individuals who are more satisfied with their
body are also happier. However, people tend to overrate the influence of some factors (e.g.
money or health) on their happiness; a phenomenon termed the focusing illusion. Our aim
was to examine the focusing illusion in relation to body satisfaction. We experimentally
manipulated body satisfaction and life satisfaction focus by varying the order of relevant
measurement scales. Volunteers (N=97) completed two questionnaires placed in separate
envelopes to control the order of scales administration. Participants either completed the
Body Satisfaction Scale followed by the Satisfaction with Life Scale or vice versa. In line
with the focusing illusion the association between body satisfaction and life satisfaction
was significantly stronger when participants were asked about their body satisfaction first.
Body satisfaction as a focusing illusion may need to be considered by scientist as well as
lay people who try to look better and be happier.
Keywords Life satisfaction Body satisfaction Focusing illusion
1 Introduction
Theorists have argued that individuals focused on one aspect of life tend to overestimate its
impact on their overall satisfaction with life; a phenomenon termed ‘‘focusing illusion’
(Schkade and Kahneman 1998). Focusing attention on any aspect of life is thought to
amplify its perceived everyday impact, whereas life satisfaction is the resultant of multiple
factors such as job satisfaction (Judge and Watanabe 1993), martial happiness (Hawkins
L. D. Kaczmarek (&)J. Enko M. Awdziejczyk N. Hoffmann N. Białobrzeska P. Mielniczuk
Institute of Psychology, Adam Mickiewicz University, 89 Szamarzewskiego Street, 60-568 Poznan,
S. U. Dombrowski
University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, UK
J Happiness Stud
DOI 10.1007/s10902-014-9598-0
and Booth 2005), neighborhood satisfaction (Shin et al. 2010), or satisfaction with body
˜oz and Ferguson 2012; Stokes and Frederick-Recascino 2003).
The focusing illusion, however, has not been universally shown for all domains of life.
Peoples’ daily concerns, values and life tasks for instance have been found to have an
enduring rather than illusory influence on personal well-being, suggesting that these factors
consistently exert influence on judgments about one’s life satisfaction (Oishi et al. 2003).
These enduring influence are in contrast to factors that influence well-being judgments
only if people focus their attention on them (Kahneman et al. 2006). Moreover, some
instances of such partial focusing illusions have been demonstrated. For instance, indi-
viduals have been shown to overestimate the impact of poverty on decreases in well-being
but their perception for high income remained accurate (Aknin et al. 2009).
As focusing illusions can misguide behavior and important life decisions (Kahneman
et al. 2006), it is imperative to understand the life domains where people tend to perceive a
skewed impact of a particular factor on their well-being. To date, evidence of the focusing
illusion has been found for income (Aknin et al. 2009; Kahneman et al. 2006), dating
(Strack et al. 1988), marriage (Schwarz et al. 1991), and health (Smith et al. 2006).
Life satisfaction has been often related to body satisfaction in the literature (Mun
˜oz and
Ferguson 2012;Sheldon2010; Stokes and Frederick-Recascino 2003). The aim of this study
was to demonstrate the focusing illusion regarding body satisfaction. We tested whether the
influence of body satisfaction on life satisfaction is stronger after facilitating a body satisfaction
focus. An experimental design allowed to compare spontaneous ratings of life satisfaction with
ratings immediately preceded by an explicit focus on body satisfaction. This approach con-
tributes to the understanding of situational factors that affect life satisfaction ratings.
2 How Focusing Illusion Works
Satisfaction with life is by definition a subjective judgment of well-being made by a given
individual (Diener et al. 1985). Due to its subjective origin, life satisfaction judgments
depend mostly on domains that readily come to mind when one thinks about his or her life,
e.g. marriage, health, or occupation (Oishi et al. 2003). Yet, such chronically accessible
information can be temporarily suppressed if other information becomes in the focal point
of attention at any given time (Strack et al. 1988). The focusing illusion is a particular
instance when human judgment is biased because an entire object (life, in this case) is
evaluated with attention restricted to a subset of that category (e.g. money). The attended
subset is overweighed relative to the unattended subset, which results in deceptive beliefs
about its everyday importance.
The focusing illusion has been studied using various methodological approaches.
Kahneman et al. (2006) asked participants to report the percentage of time spent in bad
mood on the previous day. The participants were also asked to estimate the time spent in
bad mood for individuals living in different circumstances (e.g., individuals on low and
high income). Individuals generally overestimated the prevalence of bad mood and
severely exaggerated predicted bad mood for people with undesirable life circumstances,
such as low income. In addition, income was correlated more strongly with global judg-
ment of life satisfaction, compared to daily ratings of happiness.
Aknin et al. (2009) asked participants to report their household income, their own life
satisfaction, and to predict the life satisfaction of 10 individuals with various incomes.
They compared predicted satisfaction with actual reports of life satisfaction and found that
participants overrated dissatisfaction with life among individuals with less income.
L. D. Kaczmarek et al.
In another experiment (Strack et al. 1988), participants were asked about their global
satisfaction with life and about their satisfaction with specific areas of their life, such as
romantic relationships (dating). When global life satisfaction questions were presented
before dating questions, the answers were not correlated. However, when items were
presented in a reversed order (focusing participants’ attention on their dating life first), the
correlation was significantly higher.
Smith et al. (2006) conducted a survey among Parkinson’s disease patients. Half of the
participants were told that the survey was conducted by a regional medical center and its topic
was related to Parkinson’s disease. The other group of participants was asked to participate in a
general population survey conducted by the university, assessing quality of life and happiness.
Result showed the correlation between general life satisfaction and specific health satisfaction
was high for the participants who were told that the survey focused on Parkinson’s disease
patients. When both groups were presented with specific health-related questions first, the
correlation was high regardless of the introduction. This indicated that introductory information
and specific questions can prime answers for general questions regarding well-being.
3 Body Satisfaction and Life Satisfaction
Body satisfaction depends on several factors such as social influences (Sheldon 2010),
physical activity (Umstattd et al. 2011), and body weight (Sira and White 2010). It is
noteworthy that body satisfaction also differs across men and women, e.g. among women
body dissatisfaction rises with body weight, but while overweight men also wish to be
thinner, normal and underweight men wish for a larger physique (Phillips and de Man
2010). Furthermore, body dissatisfaction is common among both women and men and is
especially prominent in women who perceive themselves to be under family and peer
pressure to have ‘perfect’ bodies (Sheldon 2010).
Body satisfaction is a significant aspect of well-being, as it can influence interpersonal
relations (Forand et al. 2010). Mun
˜oz and Ferguson (2012) showed a link between
women’s body satisfaction and satisfaction with life in general. Body satisfaction proved to
be a stronger predictor of life satisfaction than depression, parental affection, female
competition and television exposure to ideal body models. Yet, along the lines of focusing
illusion, we can assume that people moderately satisfied or dissatisfied with their body
have many daily experiences unrelated to their physical appearance. Once they stop
focusing on their body they tend to think about other everyday matters.
Given this empirical evidence and theoretical rationale, it is imperative to test to the extent
to which the relationship between body satisfaction and overall life satisfaction is enhanced
when individuals are explicitly focused on body satisfaction. Individuals from non-clinical
populations who are dissatisfied with their body may perceive most daily experiences as being
unrelated to their physical appearance. They do not evaluate their daily routines in relation to
body satisfaction unless something particular draws their attention to their body appearance.
4 The Present Study
Based on prior work on the focusing illusion (Smith et al. 2006), we predicted that the
relationship between body satisfaction and life satisfaction would be stronger for individuals
focused on their body compared to individuals with no specific focus. This hypothesis is based
on the focusing illusion theory, which stipulates that individuals focused on one aspect of life
Focusing Illusion and Body Satisfaction
tend to overestimate its impact on their overall satisfaction with life (Schkade and Kahneman
1998). More specifically, when body satisfaction is measured before life satisfaction the
relationship between body satisfaction and life satisfaction will be stronger than with the
reversed order, i.e. the correlation between body satisfaction and life satisfaction would be
moderated by the order of the administration of scales measuring both constructs. In testing
this hypothesis, we controlled for gender as body satisfaction differs between women and men
(Phillips and de Man 2010; Rysst and Klepp 2010).
5 Method
5.1 Participants
The study involved 97 student volunteers (71.1 % women) aged between 19 and 36 years
(M=21.85, SD =2.74). Groups of students were approached before classes by experi-
menters and invited to a psychological study. Four participants were excluded as outliers:
three with body satisfaction and one with life satisfaction scores two standard deviations
below the mean. Consequently, there were 33 women and 14 men in the ‘body focus’
group and 32 women and 14 men in the ‘no focus’ group. The study was conducted in
accordance with guidelines provided by Institutional Ethics Committee. Participation in the
study was strictly voluntary and each participant signed an informed consent. Participants
received no incentives for taking part in this study.
5.2 Measures
We used the 5-item Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al. 1985) to measure
global cognitive judgments of one’s life. The SWLS includes items such as ‘The conditions
of my life are excellent’. The answering scale ranges from 1 ‘strongly disagree’ to 7
‘strongly agree’ (a=.82). The maximum score was 34 for this scale.
We also used the Body Satisfaction Scale (BSS; Neumark-Sztainer et al. 2004), which
assesses satisfaction with height, weight, body shape, waist, hips, thighs, stomach, face,
body build, and shoulders. The scale contains 12 items, which are rated on a 5-point Likert-
type scale, ranging from 1 ‘strong dissatisfaction’ to 5 ‘strong satisfaction’, (a=.88). The
maximum score was 41 in the present sample.
5.3 Procedure
Both questionnaires were placed in separate envelopes. Participants were randomized to
first complete the SWLS questionnaire (‘no focus’ group, n =48) or the BSS (‘body
focus’ group, n =49). The respective questionnaires were in an envelope marked with
letter A. The remaining scale was in envelope B. Participants were asked to complete the
questionnaire from envelope A first and place it back into the envelope followed by
completing envelope B containing the remaining scale.
5.4 Statistical Analysis
Using ordinary least squares regression, we regressed satisfaction with life on body sat-
isfaction, gender (0 =women, 1 =men), a binary variable representing the order of the
L. D. Kaczmarek et al.
scales (0 =life satisfaction first; 1 =body satisfaction first), and two interaction terms: 1.
body satisfaction 9scale order and 2. body satisfaction 9gender. Prior to hypothesis
testing we performed Kolmogorov–Smirnov tests for normality with non-significant dif-
ferences indicating the normal distribution of scores. For descriptive purposes we present
r-Pearson correlations. Moderations were tested with a PROCESS computational tool
(Hayes 2013) operating within IBM SPSS 21 statistical package that was also used for the
remaining statistical analyses.
6 Results
Descriptive statistics and inter-correlations between study variables are presented in
Table 1. On average, participants were satisfied with their life and moderately satisfied
with their body. Non-significant Kolmogorov–Smirnov tests for normality indicated that
scores were normally distributed for body satisfaction, KS(93) =0.07, p[.05, and for
life satisfaction, KS(93) =0.06, p[.05. The Pearson’s rcorrelation between body
satisfaction and life satisfaction was r=.16, p[.05 for the ‘no focus’ condition and
r=.48, p\.001 for the focusing condition.
The results indicated that individuals who were more satisfied with their body were also
more satisfied with their life, as indicated by a main effect of body satisfaction on life
satisfaction (Table 2). Furthermore, a significant interaction term (body satisfac-
tion 9scale order) revealed that satisfaction with body had a stronger effect on life when
Table 1 Descriptive statistics
and inter-correlations among
study variables
Scales order coded as
0=satisfaction with life first,
1=satisfaction with body first.
gender coded as 0 =woman,
*p\.05; ** p \.01
1. Satisfaction with body
2. Satisfaction with life .35
3. Age .16 -.07
4. Gender .19 -.03 .36
5. Scales order .14 .18 -.09
M3.56 4.24 21.85
SD 0.56 1.05 2.79
Min. 1.92 1.6 19
Max. 4.67 6.8 36
Table 2 Determinants of life satisfaction
bSE bt p
Body satisfaction .39 .11 3.53 \.001
Scale order .25 .19 1.31 n.s.
Gender -.20 .21 -.94 n.s.
Body satisfaction 9Scale order .43 .22 1.99 \.05
Body satisfaction 9Gender -.08 .22 -.35 n.s.
Scale order coded as 0 =satisfaction with life first, 1 =satisfaction with body first. Gender coded as
0=woman, 1 =men
Focusing Illusion and Body Satisfaction
individuals were asked about body first. This model explained 19 % of the variance in
satisfaction with life, R
=.188, F(5, 87) =4.05, p\.01 The interaction explained
additional 3.7 % of the variance in satisfaction in life, DR
=.037, F(1, 87) =3.97,
p\.05. The interaction of body satisfaction with gender was not significant and did not
explain any additional amount of variance in satisfaction with life, DR
=.001, F(1,
87) =0.12, p[.05.
In sum, the interaction of scale order comprised a significant relationship between body
satisfaction and life satisfaction when body satisfaction was reported first, b=.62, SE
b=.18, p\.001 for women and b=.55, SE b =.19, p\.01 for men, and a non-
significant relationship when participants were asked about their life first, b=.19, SE
b=.16, p=.25 for women, and b=.12, SE b =.21, p=.58 for men (see Fig. 1).
7 Discussion
The present study examined whether overall body satisfaction is prone to the focusing
illusion. We tested if a temporal (experimentally induced) evaluative focus on body can
influence judgments about one’s overall satisfaction with life. Built on prior experimental
work where the order of satisfaction measures was manipulated resulting in the focusing
illusion (Strack et al. 1988), we randomized participants to different conditions asking
questions about either the body or about life first. In line with predictions, individuals
satisfied with their body were more likely to report higher satisfaction with life when they
were asked about their body satisfaction first. This conditional effect significantly added to
a baseline correlation between both domains of satisfaction.
This study documented a partial focusing illusion regarding body satisfaction, i.e. a
situation when the baseline correlation is enhanced by an explicit focus on a specific aspect
of life. This baseline correlation suggests that body satisfaction is spontaneously taken into
consideration while forming judgments about satisfaction with life (Schimmack and Oishi
2005). It demonstrates the validity of self-report life-satisfaction measures, even if
manipulations with temporarily accessible information have an influence on responses.
However, individuals who were made to focus on their body increasingly relied on body
information in their ratings of satisfaction with life, as indicated by an increase in
explained variance in satisfaction with life. Similar instances of partial focusing were
observed in previous studies (Aknin et al. 2009).
Fig. 1 Relationship between body satisfaction and satisfaction with life depending on focus (i.e. the order
of scales administration) in men (left) and women (right)
L. D. Kaczmarek et al.
It is important to identify those aspects of life that people consider significant for their
happiness. Focusing attention on aspects of life with which one is satisfied promotes
significant, yet often transient, increases in well-being (Emmons and McCullough 2003;
Seligman et al. 2005; Toepfer et al. 2012). Furthermore, the literature on positive psy-
chology interventions provides numerous avenues as to how a focus on positive aspects of
the future self can result in increased happiness (Layous et al. 2013). A promising study
has collected data from a sample of self-selected individuals dissatisfied with their body
(Geraghty et al. 2010). A brief psychological intervention aimed at fostering a positive
focus was efficacious in reducing body dissatisfaction with effects comparable to elements
of cognitive therapy (monitoring and restructuring) but with higher attrition. Further
studies might test how focusing illusion could be used to increase well-being of individuals
dissatisfied with their body, and how those who are satisfied already can reap additional
Asking about life satisfaction first and its hypothetical correlates later may promote the
identification of those specific aspects of life that may have more enduring effects on
overall well-being, such as becoming a spouse or a parent (Kohler et al. 2005). Some
problems within the field of well-being research require measures to influence particular
mind-set of participants. For instance, the utility of indicators used in national surveys
depends on procedures that minimize the unique characteristics of a particular moment
(Campbell et al. 1976). The current study provided new experimental evidence that the
focusing illusion can be a psychometric problem for studies on satisfaction with life. The
order of questionnaires measuring satisfaction is meaningful (Smith et al. 2006). More
specifically, starting with questions about specific satisfaction favors identification of these
aspects of well-being that can anchor peoples’ satisfaction with life in general. Further
studies might test which of the several available instruments for the measurement of
satisfaction with life are more prone or resistant to the focusing illusion (Cummins et al.
2003; Diener et al. 1985). Moreover, it seems that latent state-trait approaches that allow to
separate traits from occasion specific influences might be used to minimize the influences
of situational factors and attenuate the measurement of satisfaction from random error due
to a temporal focus (Eid and Diener 2004).
Our study may have practical implications. By popularizing images of happy and good-
looking people, the media promotes the belief that one would be lastingly happy if only his
or her body were closer to the ideal. This illusion is also pervasive in novels. Kaminski and
Magee (2013) showed that reading about protagonists with low body esteem predicted
increased weight concerns among college women. Moreover, media influence is a sig-
nificant predictor of consideration of cosmetic surgery (Swami 2009) and increasing
numbers of cosmetic surgeries linked with body image disturbances have been observed
(Callaghan et al. 2011). The ideal promoted excessively in media contributes heavily to
body image. Internalization of such an ideal is regarded as a risk factor for eating dis-
turbance (Homan 2010).
The limitation of this study may include its moderate sample size, relatively lower
number of male participants in the sample, and not accounting for the body mass index of
participants. Moreover, satisfaction scores for body and life were normally distributed,
with the mean suggesting that the participants were generally satisfied with their life and
with their body. Further studies might test if the same pattern of results hold for clinical
groups, for instance for those who are dissatisfied with their body or depressed individuals.
Furthermore, the approach we used is only one of the validated methods of testing the
focusing illusions. Different research paradigms might be used (e.g. longitudinal designs)
to provide a more robust and versatile picture of the body focusing illusion. Further
Focusing Illusion and Body Satisfaction
research could test if the efforts to improve life satisfaction by improving body satisfaction
are likely to fulfill the expectations. Moreover, despite the effects of focusing illusion being
valid on a group level, there can be meaningful individual differences (random effects)
with some individuals more and some individuals less prone to the body satisfaction
focusing illusion. Larger sample sizes combined with other statistical analysis methods
(e.g. multilevel modeling) might be used to disentangle fixed and random effects of body
satisfaction on satisfaction with life. Lastly, more advanced experimental tests might be
developed to examine the focusing illusion. In the present study, individuals are randomly
assigned to a group where the focus in a given domain is facilitated or to a control group
with no specific focus. Stronger evidence for the focusing illusion would be provided if
each participant completed two trials. For instance, each participant could complete the
measure of life satisfaction and then body satisfaction, and several days after (to avoid
memory effects) the same participants could complete the scales in the reversed order. The
focusing illusion would be indicated by significant within-subject rather than between-
subject differences. Furthermore, each participant could repeat the same experiment with a
broader range of life domains which would overcome a general limitation of current
experimental studies on the focusing illusion that examine single life domains (e.g. Smith
et al. 2006).
In conclusion, the focusing illusion regarding body satisfaction pertains to the problem
of consequences of counterfactual thinking. People can act upon motivations resulting
from ‘‘what-if’’ considerations. Some people can engage in strategies to improve their body
satisfaction, expecting that these efforts will make them happier, i.e. physical training,
dieting or cosmetic surgery. Focusing illusion is a caveat not only for researchers, but also
for lay people who try to look better and be happier.
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Focusing Illusion and Body Satisfaction
... Individuals tend to overrate the influence of any single factor on their well-being; a phenomenon termed 'focusing illusion' (Schkade and Kahneman 1998). Evidence shows that people can be biased in their estimations of the extent to which their well-being is determined by income (Aknin et al. 2009;Kahneman et al. 2006), romantic relationships (Schwarz et al. 1991), health (Smith et al. 2006), or physical appearance (Kaczmarek et al. 2016). This bias may impact the decisions that people make to increase their well-being. ...
... For instance, individuals may pursue activities which fail to maximize their well-being, such as choosing a highly paid job over a selfconcordant job (Al-Zoubi 2012). However, not all domains of life are prone to the focusing illusion (Oishi et al. 2003) and some factors induce partial focusing illusion, i.e., the individuals overrate the importance of otherwise significant factors (Kaczmarek et al. 2016). As focusing illusions can potentially have an impact on people's lives, it is vital to identify which factors trigger focusing illusion. ...
... From a happiness perspective, human information processing produces can lead to overestimated ratings of the importance of any single factor on well-being (Schkade and Kahneman 1998). The focusing illusion is an instance of biased judgment because an entire object (such as one's life) is evaluated with attention focused on a specific subset of this category, e.g., physical appearance (Kaczmarek et al. 2016). ...
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Research shows that individuals who are more physically active also report greater happiness. However, subjective well-being is prone to cognitive biases. For instance, people overrate the influence of single factors (e.g., money) on their happiness; a phenomenon termed the focusing illusion. In this study, we examined whether the relationship between physical activity and subjective well-being is stronger when individuals focus on physical activity explicitly compared to individuals with no specific focus. We experimentally manipulated the physical activity focus by varying the order of scales administration. Participants (N = 200) completed questionnaires that measured physical activity and subjective well-being placed in separate envelopes and provided in a random order. We found that individuals with higher levels of vigorous physical activity were more satisfied with life regardless of the order of scale presentation (no focusing effect). However, we found evidence of a possible focusing illusion for moderate-intensity physical activity. Individuals with higher levels of moderate-intensity physical activity reported higher subjective well-being when they were asked about physical activity first but not when they reported their well-being unaware of the upcoming physical activity questions. Thus, subjective well-being judgments can be biased by a prior focus on moderate-intensity physical activity. The order of scale administration when assessing subjective well-being should be carefully considered.
... Also, research studies show an interesting paradox wherein, despite the popularity of social media that drives active participation, consumers demonstrate high envy levels and lower satisfaction (Krasnova et al., 2015). The content related to SMCC is likely to encourage social comparisons (Steers et al., 2014) or 'focusing illusions' (Kaczmarek et al., 2014), adversely affecting psychological well-being. We also find evidence that SMCC may encourage consumers to overspend on products or experiences to generate grandiose content for social media, adversely affecting their financial well-being over the long term (Carter, 2018). ...
Do consumers engage in a consumption activity with the primary motivation of publicizing it on social media? We define such behavior as social media-centric consumption (SMCC) and systematically investigate to what extent, why, and how consumers may engage in SMCC by conducting an exhaustive literature review and analyzing data from surveys and interviews. We find that (i) a large majority (84%) of the respondents self-reported SMCC with varying levels of frequencies based on the type of social media platform(s) and personal characteristics, (ii) SMCC is primarily motivated by the need to seek attention, signal identity, or increase social value, and (iii) satisfaction from SMCC is mediated by the response it receives from other users and may hurt the long-term well-being of individuals. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of this study and propose an agenda for future research.
... Elles naissent de l'implication des sujets et des significations qu'ils construisent dans un acte d'énonciation dans le cadre de dispositifs. La « passion musicale »(Hennion, 2007) tient à une pratique collective avec des objets, un « faire ensemble », des médiations qui produisent des formes d'attachement. La « dichotomie tyrannique » dénoncée par NelsonGoodman (1990) entre émotion et raison, si prégnante dans les sciences sociales et dans l'école, est particulièrement inadéquate lorsqu'il s'agit de musique. ...
... Therefore, the ideal body image becomes a priority for adolescent girls and young women that are easily infl uenced by stereotypes, since they are convinced this ideal will make them feel satisfi ed with their own body (Kaczmarek et al., 2014). ...
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The following is a theoretical integration of two important topics: positive psychology and body image, in which tools of positive psychology and the importance of prevention based on it are detailed. Also, the concepts of body image in the population that is currently most vulnerable to this issue, adolescent women and young adult women, are highlighted. This review is complemented with a detailed proposal of psychological intervention designed from the approach of positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy. This proposal is composed of 11 sessions focused on improving the body image of women in two age ranges: adolescents and young adults who are normal weight, underweight or overweight; without falling into obesity or eating disorders. This proposal was created under two theoretical perspectives that are oriented towards the change of perceptions and behaviors that help self-acceptance of the body, with the purpose of avoiding body image distortion. Likewise, the necessary details are provided for the intervention to be applied in further investigations that offer evidence of its effectiveness and/or suggestions for improvements.
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In predicting the future (future forecasting), individuals tend to overestimate the impact they might experience if there is a significant change in one aspect of their life. This study seeks to determine the best strategy to reduce the focusing illusion that occurs when participants are asked to imagine a worse situation (disability setting). This study is a quantitative randomized controlled trial (RCT), comparing three defocusing illusion scenarios (concrete events, change for better and worse and time-weighted) and the effect on the level of quality of life (QoL) of the participants. The results of this study showed a significant effect between the three treatments on the quality of life. The ‘change for the better and worse’ scenario is shown to be more effective at reducing the effect of the focusing illusion. Keywords: disability, future forecasting, focusing illusion, defocusing illusion
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In the article on the basis of theoretical analysis of foreign and domestic research linkages between the attitude to his appearance (AP) and assessments of well-being develops a differentiated approach to the definition of the influence of different of components attitude to appearance, its value and importance to the assessment of subjective well-being (SW-B). In the empirical part of the research from intercom hypothesis: young people with different levels of subjective well-being may differ self-estimations of appearance, concern them satisfaction, measures importance of appearance in different spheres of life, measures its impact on happiness, estimates of the value of appearance. The study involved young people — 86 people at the age of 17—25 years (M age = 20.07; SD age = 2.232), 50% — women and 50% — men. A set of research methods included: questionnaire “Content-Evaluative Interpretation of Appearance” (V.A. Labunskaya); questionnaire “Estimates of the importance of attractive appear¬ance to improve in different life situation” (V.A. Labunskaya, G.V. Serikov); The modified version of the inventory “Diagnostics of Real Structure of Personality Value Orientations” (S.S Bubnova), includes scale “value of appearance”; questionnaire “Attitudes towards Appearance: Satisfaction and Concern (V.A. Labunskaya, E.V. Kapitanova); the scale of the “subjective well-being”, russian version of which was created by V.M. Sokolova. The results of the study confirm the initiative of hypothesis and indicate what components of attitudes towards appearance have a different impact on the level of subjective well-being: 1) self-estimation of components and characteristics of appearance, associated with satisfaction appearance, increases the level of subjective well-being; 2) increase of value, significance of the appearance of a person’s life, coupled with concern with appearance, leads to reduced levels of subjective well-being.
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The paper attempts to integrate the concept of relationships of interpersonal significance, approaches to the correlation between physical appearance and life satisfaction, as well as several concepts of interpersonal cognition, self-assessment and evaluations of other people’s physical appearance. It introduces the concept of “insignificant/significant assessor of appearance” and argues that among the factors that turn a group member into the “insignificant/significant assessor of appearance” are evaluations, self-evaluations and group evaluations of physical appearance. The research described in the paper involved 89 students aged 19—21 (M=20 years), 66 females and 23 males, members of five groups that have been studying together for three years. The methods employed in the study included: “The Evaluation/Content Interpretation of Appearance and its Correspondence with Gender/Age Constructs”, a technique developed by V.A. Labunskaya; a modification of a sociometric test that helped reveal “insignificant/significant assessors of appearance”. Also, nonparametric mathematical methods were used to carry out comparative analysis. The outcomes show that there are considerable differences between the self-assessments, evaluations of physical appearance of those group members who are “significant assessors of appearance”, and group evaluations of their appearance.
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This article compares how people with normal bodies and bodies that deviate from dominant media-depicted body ideals, live with and accept their bodies. Media images of ideal bodies en-compass judging gazes. These gazes affect and discipline people and may make it challenging for them to accept their bodies. The data mate-rial is part of the interdisciplinary Nordic project called "Beauty comes from within: looking good as a challenge in health promotion". Based on 20 interviews with Norwegian men and women, of whom 10 have particular appearance-related problems, the article discusses the relationship between the media-depicted body ideals, de-scriptions by informants of what a good-looking body is, body satisfaction and body practices. The article shows resonance between how peo-ple describe good-looking bodies and satisfac-tion or not with own bodies. Women express more dissatisfaction with their bodies than men, but the article shows that many have strategies for trying to accept their bodies as they are. The comparative perspective highlight that the peo-ple having deviant bodies, more than those with normal bodies, balance the idea of "being my-self" with the idea of "doing the best out of my (bodily) situation". Most interestingly, they show that it is harder to accept handicaps that are changeable, like overweight, than harelips, de-formed legs and skin injuries. As such, over-weight becomes a double burden.
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A 4-week-long experiment examined the effects of a positive activity intervention in which students wrote about their “best possible selves” (BPS) once a week. We manipulated two factors that might affect the success of the happiness-increasing activity—whether the positive activity was administered online versus in-person and whether the participant read a persuasive peer testimonial before completing the activity. Our results indicated that the BPS activity significantly boosted positive affect and flow and marginally increased feelings of relatedness. No differences were found between participants who completed the positive activity online versus in-person. However, students who read a testimonial extolling the virtues of the BPS activity showed larger gains in well-being than those who read neutral information or completed a control task. The results lend legitimacy to online self-administered happiness-increasing activities and highlight the importance of participants’ beliefs in the efficacy of such activities for optimum results.
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Two experiments examined the effects of answering a question about a specific component of life satisfaction on respondents' assessment of their overall satisfaction with life. The results suggest that the use of primed information in forming subsequent judgments is determined by Grice's conversational norms. In general, answering the specific question increases the accessibility of information relevant to that question. However, the effect that this has on the general judgment depends on the way in which the two questions are presented. When the two questions are merely placed in sequence without a conversational context, the answer to the subsequent general question is based in part on the primed specific information. As a result, the answer to the general question becomes similar to that for the specific question (i.e. assimilation). However, this does not occur when the two questions are placed in a communication context. Conversational rules dictate that communicators should be informative and should avoid redundancy in their answers. Therefore, when a specific and a general question are perceived as belonging to the same conversational context, the information on which the answer to the specific question was based is disregarded when answering the general one. This attenuates the assimilation effect. The conditions under which these different processes occur are identified and experimentally manipulated, and the implications of these findings for models of information use in judgment are discussed.
The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
The aims of this study were to (a) identify the predictors of attrition from a fully self-directed intervention, and (b) to test whether an intervention to increase gratitude is an effective way to reduce body dissatisfaction. Participants (N = 479, from the United Kingdom) aged 18–76 years took part in a self-help study via the Internet and were randomized to receive one of two interventions, gratitude diaries (n = 130), or thought monitoring and restructuring (n = 118) or a waitlist control (n = 231) for a two week body dissatisfaction intervention. The gratitude intervention (n = 40) was as effective as monitoring and restructuring (n = 22) in reducing body dissatisfaction, and both interventions were significantly more effective than the control condition (n = 120). Participants in the gratitude group were more than twice as likely to complete the intervention compared to those in the monitoring and restructuring group. Intervention content, baseline expectancy and internal locus of control significantly predicted attrition. This study shows that a gratitude intervention can be as effective as a technique commonly used in cognitive therapy and is superior in retaining participants. Prediction of attrition is possible from both intervention content and psychological variables.
Sixty-four adult women and 46 adult men participated in a study of the relationship between current weight status and body-image satisfaction. Results showed that in women there is a positive linear relationship between current weight status and body-shape dissatisfaction; that is, as weight increases, body-shape dissatisfaction rises. In men, different forms of dissatisfaction are reported across the weight spectrum; that is, men who are overweight wish to be thinner whereas normal weight or underweight men wish to have a larger physique. When the degree to which specific physical characteristics (e.g., facial features, height, hair, etc.) match ideals and the importance placed on meeting these ideals are considered together in relation to current weight status, a significant linear relationship is found for women but not for men. Women who weigh more generally report greater important self-ideal discrepancies compared to lower-weight women who tend to report important self-ideal congruencies.
This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is shown to have favorable psychometric properties, including high internal consistency and high temporal reliability. Scores on the SWLS correlate moderately to highly with other measures of subjective well-being, and correlate predictably with specific personality characteristics. It is noted that the SWLS is suited for use with different age groups, and other potential uses of the scale are discussed.
Although scholars and professional organizations regularly lament the influence of media on women's body dissatisfaction, research evidence to support such concerns remains inconsistent. In 2011, Ferguson, Winegard, and Winegard proposed a Catalyst Model of women's body dissatisfaction which provided a diathesis-stress perspective on such phenomenon. The Catalyst Model argued that women's body dissatisfaction was influenced by peer competition with other proximal women rather than distal depictions of women in the media. This hypothesis was tested in this study, with a sample of 218 young Mexican American women. Body dissatisfaction was predicted primarily by larger body mass index (BMI), depressive symptoms and feelings of inferiority in comparison to other women. Exposure to thin-ideal images on television did not correlate with body dissatisfaction. Life satisfaction among young women was related to depression levels, perceptions of parental affection and body dissatisfaction, but not to exposure to thin-ideal images on television. Results supported the Catalyst Model.
Economic and rational-choice theories suggest that individuals form unions or have children because these decisions increase their subjective well-being or “happiness.” We investigate this relation using within-MZ (identical) twin pair estimates to control for unobserved factors, such as optimistic preferences, that may simultaneously affect happiness, partnerships, and fertility. Our findings, based on Danish twins aged 25–45 and 50–70 years old, include the following. (1) Currently being in a partnership has large positive effects on happiness. (2) A first child substantially increases well-being, in analyses without controls for partnerships, and males enjoy an almost 75 percent larger happiness gain from a first-born son than from a first-born daughter; however, only females enjoy a happiness gain from the first-born child with controls for partnerships. (3) Additional children beyond the first child have a negative effect on subjective well-being for females, while there is no effect for males. (4) Ever having had children does not significantly affect the subjective well-being of males or females aged 50–70 years.
Large samples of students in the Midwest and in Southern California rated satisfaction with life overall as well as with various aspects of life, for either themselves or someone similar to themselves in one of the two regions. Self-reported overall life satisfaction was the same in both regions, but participants who rated a similar other expected Californians to be more satisfied than Midwesterners. Climate-related aspects were rated as more important for someone living in another region than for someone in one's own region. Mediation analyses showed that satisfaction with climate and with cultural opportunities accounted for the higher overall life satisfaction predicted for Californians. Judgments of life satisfaction in a different location are susceptible to a focusing illusion: Easily observed and distinctive differences between locations are given more weight in such judgments than they will have in reality.